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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by newinthefield, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    Everyone in the community of my new job keeps telling me how great my writing has been. I've always looked at myself as a capable writer -- not great but not terrible. I've never really had many objective parties read stuff I've written though, so does this story below interest anyone not directly in the community or directly related to me? Thanks.

    ALTON – The football annals at all levels are dominated by players and coaches who demonstrate toughness and ferocity, but Vandalia coach John Stout broke the rules of those books, showing raw emotion following his team’s 13-12 comeback win against Marquette Catholic last Friday.

    Working without a timeout and facing a 74-yard field with just over two minutes left in the game, the Vandals ran a nearly flawless 2-minute drill that culminated with a 6-yard touchdown catch by senior Matt Hoffman with 36.7 seconds left in the game.

    “I’m just proud of our kids,” Stout said. “You get choked up thinking about it – all the stuff they did in the offseason, and to come down the field and do that. That’s why you’re in coaching.”

    Not only did Hoffman snare the touchdown, he also was on the receiving end of a 35-yard pass that pushed the Vandals into Marquette Catholic territory and inflicted an even stronger sense of urgency into the team.

    Vandalia nearly scored two plays later when Bryan Hosick was tackled at the 1-yard line, and the team had a brief scare when Tim Ritchey fumbled on the next play, losing 5 yards.

    But the offensive line finished the drive with as much tenacity as it started the drive with, leaving quarterback Marty Johnson plenty of time to find Hoffman along the visitors' sideline.

    Hoffman was far from the team’s lone hero of the game, though. Stout said he would have to cut his game ball into eight or 10 pieces.

    He mentioned the offensive line, senior Daniel Bell – who intercepted a pass in Vandalia territory with less than 10 seconds left in the game – and junior running back Levi Ulmer, who had 97 yards on the ground and recorded 10 tackles.

    “Levi ... he’s a good, straight-ahead runner,” Stout said. “We put him back there, and he showed why he is one of our better running backs. He ran like crazy tonight.”

    The Vandals played well in the first quarter, forcing and recovering a fumble at their own 13-yard line on the sixth play of the game to quench an Explorer scoring threat.

    From there, Vandalia used 17 plays – half being Ulmer rushes – and nearly eight minutes of game clock to move the ball 82 yards downfield.

    After being stopped short at the Marquette Catholic 5-yard line, the Vandals opted to kick a field goal, but Bell’s try was blocked.

    The Explorers were unable to do any damage on the ensuing possession, and the teams would trade fumbles on the next three possessions.

    After recovering the ball at their own 44-yard line, the Explorers quickly raced their way down the field, scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run by Derrik Starrett.

    Bell was unable to keep the ensuing kickoff under control, getting the ball stripped from behind after breaking free, setting up Marquette Catholic at midfield.

    Having predominantly been using the run, the Explorers lofted a pass to the end zone four plays later, but it was defended by Justin Rubin and would prove to be a turning point in the game.

    “We hung on there and went down at the half 6-0, instead of 12-0 or 13-0,” Stout said. “That was big to our kids, because we knew we were getting the ball to start the second half.”

    Marquette Catholic tried some trickery to open the second half, booting an onside kick, but Stout was expecting it and made sure his players were, too.

    “We worked on the kickoff all week,” Stout said. “I said, ‘They’re probably going to onside that to start the second half. Don’t be surprised.’

    “Our guys were ready, we got great field position and our guys went and scored.”

    Using Ulmer and junior Nate Henna to move 44 yards down the field, Johnson rushed the final 4 yards for a score. Bell’s extra point gave the Vandals a narrow 7-6 lead.

    A strong kickoff return allowed the Explorers to set up the ensuing drive in Vandalia territory, eventually allowing Tyler Moore to cross the goal line untouched for a 4-yard score. Starrett fumbled the 2-point conversion try, leaving the Explorers ahead 12-7.

    The action slowed for the next several possessions, with neither team waging a serious scoring threat until the Vandals scored the game-winning points.

    Junior Blake Mills left the game at halftime due to a possible concussion and a cut on his chin. Stout said on Tuesday that Mills is probable for Friday’s homecoming game.

    Vandalia’s next two games are at home against Litchfield (1-3) and Hillsboro (1-3).

    Netting a win before homecoming was a big goal, Stout said, and now he hopes to string together the team’s first wining streak of the season.

    “We’re going home for two, and hopefully, we can get those two and go from there,” he said
  2. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Damn good at first glance, but honestly, I hated the lede.

    Too over the top. This game isn't Ali-Fazier. It's two mid-level high school teams.

    That's a long freeking story. Not complaining because I think you triangled it well, but how much made print?

    Off the top of my head...

    After a last-minute victory on Friday night against Marquette Catholic, Vandalia coach John Stout wanted to do the impossible.

    I think it was a pretty good job, though. Pretty damn good.

    He wanted to slice up the game ball into 10 equal pieces.
  3. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    Thanks. I should have mentioned I know length was an issue. It's a weekly I'm at, so I don't really have any perameters on length. It's the one thing I've always looked to better myself on since college.
  4. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    No, if you have time, write. Just don't be pissed if it gets cut. I'm sure people here would rather get 18 inches for a 15 inch hole that 12 inches for the same hole.
  5. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    Well, knowing my collegiate history (at times using close to 1,000 for a recap just because it was NCAA Div. I football), I know it's something I need to work on...lol
  6. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    The lede might be a tiny bit overwrought, but with a community paper that's perfectly OK....these teams may be Podunk U. to anybody else, but to a little town they're so much more than that. Nothing wrong with tugging the heartstrings a little as long as you don't get carried away. I think you did a good job there.

    Only thing I don't like is that you say the coach showed raw emotion but then you don't go back to that. If that's your foundation, build around it. Come back to it a couple times during the story. Weave that theme in throughout the story. That makes all the difference between an average gamer and a good one.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I would've liked to have a seen a quote or two from the receiver, Hoffman. Maybe even build the lede around him.
    He had two big catches on the game-winning drive, including the touchdown. And he's a senior. Was this a rivalry game that meant something to him? Was it a difficult catch or was he wide open? If this win was really that emotional for the coach (and, I assume, the team), how much did it mean to him to catch that TD pass? Did he have a decent game (or a crappy one) other than those two catches?
    I think you could've used the same angle with that little tweak and had a much more effective story.

    There was also, obviously, some late-game drama here. The stop on first-and-goal, the fumble on second down. You really glossed over that at the beginning and never went back to it. Instead of recapping, in detail, two early-game drives you should've zeroed in on the last one. You can recap the previous action in a graph or two and leave yourself a lot more room to talk about the late-game heroics, especially since the score was 12-7 for a while. It's not like Marquette Catholic took the lead with two minutes left.
  8. newinthefield

    newinthefield Member

    Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, the coach does not permit play interviews after the game.
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Why not? Don't talk to the coach then if he has that attitude. Just say Coach Collegereject refused to make players available for comment after the game.
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